Martin Schneider, owner of young fashion independent Accent and a G-Star franchise in Leeds.
How many stores do you have?
We’ve got three stores, Accent menswear, Accent womenswear and a G-Star store.
How confident do you feel about business this summer?
I feel good, fairly confident. We have great brands and trade is good.
Which categories are selling well?
Denim and polo shirts are selling well. Shirts will be strong next season.
Are you buying any new brands for next season?
I always look at bringing in new brands, but as 99% of our brands are working really well it has to be something really special. I’m not sure yet what that will be.
Are your buying budgets up or down this season?
They’re not up, we won’t be buying any more. We’re doing well, but we don’t want to get caught in the trap of becoming overstocked then ending up with flat sales.
How much of your budget are you holding back?
We haven’t done our budgets yet, but it will probably be about 20%. We always want to have enough budget left to get repeats.
Do you have a transactional website?
Yes, it’s doing OK, but we’re relaunching it in two weeks with the help of marketing company WMG. It will be more user-friendly and easier to navigate. Our inspiration came from Kurt Geiger’s site. We wanted it to be classic, stylish and elegant.
How do you compete with the high street?
We’re doing what we always do best, we’ve never diversified. We feel we’re the best jeans shop in Yorkshire, and the UK.
Are you expanding at all?
Yes, we have another G-Star store opening on October 1 in Manchester. We’re also looking at a third G-Star in Leeds city centre for next year.
How is trade at the moment?
Our menswear store is doing great, the best year we’ve ever had. However, womenswear this season is down, it’s been very quiet. We had a downturn in womenswear last spring as well. The biggest problem for us has been a Primark opening in Leeds. It’s now cool for women to mix and match expensive jeans with cheap T-shirts. As a result, jeans have been good and tops quiet.
The high street is going on Sale now, have you started discounting yet?
Yes, we’re discounting now, which is about the same time as last year. But why are we all on Sale now? The summer’s not even started. It would be great if we had laws like they used to have in Germany, where everyone went on Sale at the same time.
Which brands are selling well and why?
Lyle & Scott, G-Star, Replay, Penguin, Belstaff and Luke. Anything vintage or heritage is working well. Lyle & Scott has been phenomenal, and jeans are selling well. Replay has worked on its price points for the new ranges. Prices are keener now and we’ve been getting a good reaction from customers. All our menswear labels have been doing well.
What are you planning to buy into for spring 09?
G-Star is doing more collections, so we’re not buying as much from the mainline, but it means we’re getting more product more often, which is good. Denim will always be very good for us, but shirts will remain strong.